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    Open Pantry to Strategically Reposition Its Brands

    After selling 19 stores to 7-Eleven, the company has no plans to divest its remaining eight sites.

    PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wis. -- After divesting 19 locations to 7-Eleven Inc., Open Pantry Food Marts of Wisconsin Inc. said it will continue to operate eight core locations in southeast Wisconsin and plans to "strategically reposition" its many proprietary Open Pantry brands for a 2013 rollout.

    As CSNews Online reported last week, Dallas-based 7-Eleven closed on its acquisition of the Open Pantry stores in Wisconsin, primarily in the greater Milwaukee and Madison markets. The deal marks the convenience store giant's re-entry to the state.

    "The global brand 7-Eleven offers to this marketplace adds value for consumers interested in their many proprietary offerings," Open Pantry President and CEO Robert A. Buhler stated in a news release issued today. "Open Pantry's eight remaining core sites will continue to offer our proprietary products -- Willow Creek Coffee, Open Pantry Gourmet Sandwich and Salads, etc. -- serving our core customers."

    Buhler noted that Open Pantry has no plans to divest its remaining sites, and in fact, will continue to look for growth opportunities. "Our operating risks are significantly less now with fewer sites, while [our] real estate portfolio, E&K Land LLC, continues to hold 16 superb properties transitioned to 7-Eleven," he said. "Furthermore, our dealer business remains very important to Open Pantry and can grow, we feel."

    Open Pantry has developed an "exceptional operating capacity and branding image, which transforms modest sites into upscale, professionally welcoming convenience stores that are nationally recognized and emulated," Buhler continued. The CEO believes this ability is of great value to many operators who would like to have both a high-end brand and look, coupled with a successful merchandising offer that includes buying power and sophisticated, drill-down, back-office reporting capability.

    "We are exploring promoting this capability to jobbers seriously interested in aiding their sophisticated dealers, as well as convenience store chains that are passionate about making the leap to quality, but need a packaging program to do so," Buhler said.

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